There’s a lot of confusion about food storage methods out there! When is it appropriate to use mylar bags vs. vacuum packing vs. glass jars? Let’s unpack this and let me explain “How to Use Mylar Bags and Oxygen Absorbers for Long-Term Food Storage”.
Food can be stored short-term or long-term.
Short-term should be considered 12 months or less. Vacuum-packing and mason jars are very appropriate for short-term food storage. Your food will keep just fine in vacuum-sealed containers, whether they be jars or the plastic bags that are made for the Food Saver.
The Food Saver has this handy little attachment for mason jars, both wide and regular mouth, so that you can re-seal your jar of food once you’ve finished using it! I love that and use mine all the time!
But for long-term storage, meaning up to 20+ years, you need to use mylar bags.
Enemies of Food Storage
Once you understand how food deteriorates, it will make sense to you.
At least 4 things help food to deteriorate:
Of course, we need oxygen to live and breath, but it’s not so good for stored food. In the presence of oxygen, food will deteriorate quickly.
Ever notice when someone leaves a bag of cereal open overnight and how stale it gets? Yep. that’s because of oxygen, the cereal was oxidized.
Oxidation is why iron rusts, newspapers yellow, and silver tarnishes. It also causes many nasty changes to food products that change flavor, texture, appearance and nutritional value.
- Oils and fats to become rancid
- Darkening and browning
- Loss of nutrients like vitamin C
- Stale flavors in bakery goods
- Modification of protein molecules
In addition to directly causing damage, the presence of oxygen permits all sorts of organisms to infest food, sometimes causing great harm.
- Fungi such as mold, mildew or yeast
- Bugs, eggs and larvae
Oxygen is required for all these awful things to happen and that is why removing it can have such a dramatic effect – without adding chemical preservatives!
courtesy of PackFreshUSA
The best way to remove oxygen is to use oxygen absorbers in your container! We’ll discuss those further in just a bit.
Light also helps food to deteriorate. This is why it’s important for long-term food storage that food be protected from light.
When you’re talking about shorter term food storage, you’ll still want to store your containers/mason jars in a dark cabinet or pantry, but light still gets to them every time you use them.
And then there’s heat.
Your food pantry should be between 50-70 degrees to keep your stored food at it’s freshest. Fluctuations in food pantry temperatures can compromise your stores!
Why Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers Work
The only material that will keep light and oxygen out of your stored food is metal, which is why mylar bags work so well for long-term food storage!
Used in conjunction with oxygen absorbers, mylar bags can keep your food fresh for up to 30 years!
What Foods Store Best in Mylar Bags?
Here is a list of food products that are great for use with mylar bags and oxygen absorbers:
- Dehydrated fruit/veggies
- Potato flakes
- Trail mix
- Powdered milk, juice
- Pet food
- Wheat berries
- Dried corn
- Chick peas
- Corn meal
- Freeze-dried eggs
- Non dairy creamer
- Bread mixes*
- Cake mixes*
- Tortilla mix*
- Ramen noodles
- Dehydrated soups
- Bouillon cubes
* just add water version
You can often keep products in their original packages, but if you do, poke a couple holes in the packages so that the oxygen will be removed. Most products are packaged using gas flushing to reduce oxygen levels, but Oxygen Absorbers do a much better job.
Coffee beans will give off a gas. They CAN be stored long-term but if you use a Mylar bag you may see it puff up a little over time.
Salt, sugar, honey and cornstarch do not spoil and do not need Oxygen Absorbers. You may choose to add a desiccant to buffer the moisture level but it is not necessary. Iodized salt may become yellow over time but the color change is safe and will not effect the quality otherwise.
So, don’t hesitate to try your hand at long-term storage with mylar bags!